A former top cop of a Virginia sheriff’s office molested a 9-year-old relative on a Carnival cruise ship earlier this year, a Miami federal jury found.
Justin Dale Sigmon, 47, was convicted Friday of abusive sexual contact of a minor, court records show. The Virginia man, facing up to life in prison, will be sentenced Jan. 12.
According to his criminal complaint, Sigmon and his family were waiting to be served in the dining room of the ship, which departed from Port Miami, when someone sitting at a different table watched him rub the inner thighs of a girl he had on his lap on May 26.
Recorded by security cameras and the witness, the girl is seen pushing his hand away form under her skirt, an FBI agent wrote in the criminal complaint.
“Despite these efforts, Sigmon continued to touch minor victim’s upper and inner thighs,” the agent said.
“At another point of the touching, the minor victim, who initially was seated with her legs uncrossed, crossed her legs to close off the area of her groin and Sigmon then proceeded to place his hand and finger in between minor victim’s thighs in an attempt to gain access and continue to touch the area.”
The witness, who reported the abuse to cruise ship security, told investigators that he molested her for about 10 minutes.
Immediately after the girl got off his lap, Sigmon placed both of his hands over his crotch area “for an extended period of time,” the agent said. When investigators asked why his hands were on his crotch, he claimed he was cold — and denied being aroused.
“When cruise security officials confronted him about his conduct, Sigmon identified himself as a law enforcement officer,” the United States Attorney’s Office of the Southern District of Florida said Tuesday in a news release.
Sigmon held the rank of major at the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia until he resigned a few days after the accusations were leveled against him, the agency said on June 3rd. His attorney on Tuesday didn’t immediately respond to Miami Herald’s emailed request for comment.
The girl told investigators Sigmon didn’t rub her thighs, and that he only touched her legs below the knees.
“The recordings directly refute minor victim’s rendition of events,” the agent said.
In an interview with law enforcement, Sigmon asserted that he didn’t intend for the act to be “sexual.”
Sigmon told investigators that if another man touched his daughter in the same way, he “would have punched him in the face.”